by J. Bree
Book 2 in the Queen's Crow Trilogy
Everything has changed.
The time away from my family was supposed to be about finding myself, finding out who I am now that I am free, but nothing in our world is easy and some lessons are the hardest to learn.
I can’t trust anyone.
With two open spots on the Twelve that have to be filled, loyalties won’t just be tested, they’ll be pushed to the limits. No one is safe once they step into the Game.
All of my dreams of leaving high school and my family being free seem like a distant memory now, the shadows of our pasts still hanging over our every move. Sticking together has never been so hard.
But one thing is for sure.
Nothing will ever be the same again.
I have to start out by saying that I love J. Bree.
I love the Mounts Bay Saga books.
They are gloriously dark and sexy, and when I'm in the mood for romance with a darker edge, I enjoy that kind of book.
That being said, I think J. Bree could have made this a duology. There is a lot of "filler" in these books, and I think it would have made it better to shorten Avery's story. I enjoy a woman in power. I love a woman owning what she wants, and not backing down. I do appreciate that. I love the romance with Aodhan. I love the tension between Avery and Atticus. And that ending? J. Bree loves her cliffhangers. But I think this story is going on too long.
Yup. Short and sweet review today. If you love the Hannaford Prep books, and Butcher of the Bay, no doubt you will love these too. They aren't bad. They are entertaining and steamy, and full of the dark wit J. Bree is well known for.
He sounds like he’s pleading for her life.
Atticus: “Are you to argue with me if I do decide she needs to go? Have you grown attached to the little orphan Mounty?”
He meets my eye without any remorse, speaking through his teeth at the rage that still fills him at the memory as he says,
Luca: “Standing there and watching that psychopath smash her leg to pieces was the hardest fucking thing I’ve ever done. You know that.” Lips: “Am I killing him?”
No hi, how’s things—typical Mounty.
Avery: “Which him are we talking about? Because my kill list is at least seventy percent male.”
She scoffs down the line at me.
Lips: “Of course it is, men are perverts and fucking creeps. I’m actually surprised it’s not higher.” Aodhan: “If you want mind-numbing, leg-shaking, brain-breaking sex then quit trying to speed things up. You need to learn the difference between a quick fuck and me spreading you out and making a meal of you.” Illi: “She’s a raging fucking psycho. We should definitely bring her on board.” Charlotte: “Don’t like people touching your toys? I have other senators you can have, you know, if you lose this one.”
I shrug, feigning indifference, because no one needs to know how much I’m willing to do to keep Lips’ siblings alive until we know if we’re keeping them or not.
Avery: “I’m rather attached and, besides, it’s the principle of it. No one breaks my toys except me.” The biker’s lip curls as he turns, but Charlotte lifts a hand and nails him in the chest with a taser gun, taking him down to the ground with ease. She steps forward and presses her foot over his throat, her mouth a red slash of smirking wrath across her face.
Charlotte: “I’m not really a fan of being called a cunt.” Avery: "He’s not exactly… rational sometimes when it comes to my safety.”
Aodhan nods and smirks at me.
Aodhan: “So you’ve told him exactly nothing about what’s been happening since he left the Bay?”
I smile back at him.
Avery: “I’ve told him plenty! I’m sure he’s thrilled to hear about all of the baking I’ve been doing while absolutely nothing dangerous is happening in the Bay. Didn’t you hear, it’s become the safest city in the country? A miracle really.”
He chuckles Lucy is waiting for us at the door, leaning against the exterior wall with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth, and I startle at the hungry look in Illi’s eyes until I realize he’s focused entirely on the smoke curling out of her mouth. When I giggle at him, he gives me a dark look.
Illi: “I promised Odie I’d quit before the baby gets here. It’s never been so fucking hard to be a man of my word to her.” She taps her fingers and thumb together, the silver jewelry making a little clinking noise and then suddenly it’s not a weirdly intricate piece of silver. It’s a claw… it’s a weapon. She can’t move much except her hand but the moment she sinks the claws into his throat, Travis rears back and effectively rips his own throat out with the force. The blood pours out of his neck in the most horrifying way, his heart pumping it out as if his neck is a hose, just gushing out until Lucy is absolutely covered in it.
Jackson: “I fucking love that kid. Can we adopt her?”
Jackson mumbles to me while I try not to vomit all over his shoes. Atticus: “Put your hands on the mattress, Avery.”
I huff but bend over obediently, planting my hands against the plush white comforter on my bed. He gently nudges my legs wider with his foot, his shoes still on and his hand slowly running down my spine.
Avery: “You’re not even going to kiss me first?”
I say, my voice more breath than substance. His hands curve down my ass until they find the hem of my skirt, pushing it up and over my hips.
Atticus: “I’ll kiss you first, now stop talking. Stop making demands, or I’ll make you.” I kind of want him to spank me again. Clearly I need therapy. Atticus: “There is no being around you, Floss, without desperately wanting to keep you. Without falling in love with your savage, ruthless, perfectly poised self. I’ve never met anyone who knows their own mind like you do. You make a choice and then you follow it to the very bitter end, no matter the cost. You were mine from the very beginning.” Lips: "I’m talking about where he was totally fine getting his dick wet, but as soon as he got off, he’s running the fuck away again? I’ll gut him—”
She stops abruptly then curses under her breath. Then I hear Blaise say,
Blaise: “I’m going to pretend I heard none of that, but you probably shouldn’t let me get fucked up around Ash for a bit.”
Jesus H. Christ. The Bear: “I paid you a diamond; if they kill me, you’re fucked, Crow! The Viper and the Ox will know, and you’ll have a fucking revolt on your hands.”
Pathetic. The fog finally lifts, burning away with the rage pumping through my veins. I’m untouchable in this moment, if I had my gun there would already be a bullet in his fucking brain.
Avery: “The Crow doesn’t speak for the Wolf or her family. What you did tonight, the fight and threatening me? Well, you’re about to learn all about the real hierarchy in Mounts Bay.”
A nervous laughter bursts out of his chest as he looks around desperately, but none of the other members are laughing. No, they’re all a little smarter than this idiot and every last one of them has figured it out already. The Jackal broke the sanctity of the Twelve. He cracked the foundations of the institution and now something else has taken hold in the Bay. A family of people loyal to each other and themselves, fiercely protective of our own agendas. If the Twelve is no longer useful to us then they’re out. The Bear is out.
Avery: “You can’t do shit—“
I step forward until I’m in his face.
Avery: “I could slit your fucking throat right here and now and no one would do a thing about it. You breathe at my discretion and if you value that oxygen, you’d run. You’d run so far away that the Devil himself couldn’t find you because you just made yourself problem number one in my books.”
His eyelids peel back until the whites of his eyes are showing but when he looks around, all he can see are the four men caging us both in, ready to pounce and bleed him out the second he attempts a goddamn thing.
The Bear: “I paid a diamond.”
Avery: “Your favor to the Crow is nothing to me, and it means nothing to the Butcher. Stag, does it mean anything to you?”
Aodhan answers without hesitation.
Aodhan: “Fucking nothing, Queenie.”
Avery: “There we go. You just keep picking the wrong fucking sides.” Atticus: "Stick to your own fucking business, stay out of each other’s shit, and we’ll be fine. Don’t mess with the fucking Family.”
The Viper: “Of course you’d fucking say that! Looking after your own fucking people,”
the Viper snarls and stalks off toward his car, his own men following quickly after him like they’re glad to be clear of this shitshow. Atticus doesn’t glance our way at all, just stares down all of the other members until they walk away.
Atticus: “I’m not a member of the Family. I’m just smart enough to see the writing on the wall.” Aodhan: "You’re everything to me, Queenie. You’re the light in my darkness right now.”
I swallow and take a second to be brave.
Avery: “I love you, Aodhan. Please come home safe to me.”
His eyes squeeze shut and he leans down to press his forehead to mine.
Aodhan: “I love you too, Avery Beaumont. Stay here and stay safe for me too because if I lose you, I’m going the same way as Jack, I swear to fucking God.” Avery: “I love you. I’ve loved you since I was nine years old and you punched out one of the Davids boys in the face for lifting up my skirt at that stupid gala. I’ve loved you through middle school and high school. I waited for you to notice me and love me back. I’ve loved you for as long as I’ve been breathing and I will love you long after I stop.“ Atticus: “Dying for her has always been the plan. Who am I to complain about having my greatest wish fulfilled?”
He groans at me and shoves me into the passenger seat of my car, racing around to go in the driver's seat and then we’re flying down the backstreets and back onto the highway,
Luca: “Oh yeah? And who’s taking care of her when you’re gone? Who’s going to go toe-to-toe with her fucking psychotic father if you’re not around?”
I hit the recline on the seat to lessen the pressure on my wound and press a hand back over the mess of my stomach, blood smearing over every part of the car I’m touching.
Atticus: “You do. You’ll take care of her for me.”
He looks over to me in the darkness of the car and gives me a curt nod.
Luca: “To the end.”